STREET CHILDREN IN NIŠ (SERBIA): THE CASE OF DROP IN CENTRE FOR THE MOST AT RISK ADOLESCENTS (MARA)Miodrag Đorđević
, 2016, master's thesis
Abstract: In 2009, a Drop in centre for street children - MARA was established in Niš,
Serbia. The purpose of the project was to provide health protection of adolescents,
who lived in structural disadvantages, was exposed to the risk of HIV, and who have
not been addressed by the institutional social care system.
Once on the streets, children have difficulty meeting their basic needs such as
obtaining food, clothes or shelter. Therefore, they employ a range of survival
strategies. Begging, car washing, collecting secondary resources, borrowing money,
and dealing drugs are common ways how to provide subsistence. Perhaps the most
dangerous survival strategy pertains to exchanging sex services for food or money.
Drug and alcohol use are common practices among street children.
The main goal of this thesis was to obtain new knowledge about these young
people in order to achieve a better understanding of their behaviours in the
framework of social marginalization, their coping strategies and their own
contributions to social exclusion. To provide better social, health and educational
services for street children in Niš a qualitative approach is necessary to understand
their survival strategies and their several needs as the persons at risk in certain social
The main approach was ethnography encompassing participant observation
during the fieldwork in Drop in centre in Niš. Following methods were employed:
Review of the scientific literature on the issue and analytical reading; Review and analysis of existing documents and
archive materials: UN/NGO/Government documents, and the documentation on the
projects from Drop in centre; Participant observation in the group of MARA; Semistructured
interviews with MARA; An ethnographic diary and ethnographic
fieldnotes of fieldwork in the Drop in centre in Niš.
This thesis was focused on the following research questions: What is the
relationship between social stereotypes about MARA and MARA’s behaviour? Are
the stereotypes affecting MARA’s identities, behaviour and appearance or vice
versa? How do MARA act within their several environments? How MARA relate to
each other? How “street groups” influence MARA’s risky behaviour? What are
interactions within these groups? What are the commonly shared values among the
members of the groups? My research will explore more in detail common values in
the groups of drug users and sex workers. How MARA understand the risk of drug
use and commercial sex? What is the social context of risk perception? Do they have
any ideas how to prevent the risk? Did they have any concepts about the risk? And
how their concept coincides with the mainstream, project concepts?
Discussing all above research questions, the main expected result refers to
obtaining new knowledge in order to find better solution to their problems compared
to existing practices and understandings by several actors. Therefore,
this work will fight against poorly informed images and understandings of
adolescent Roma and street children, which are as a rule seen and understood within
ideological, commonsensical, racial and stereotypical considerations.
Roma studies have little academic research on at risk adolescent children,
especially in the Western Balkans.
The originality of this study is related to the unique material collected in the
ethnography through participant observation and fieldwork with appropriate
techniques of data collection with adolescent street children in Niš. The study was
carried out on the territory of former Socialist Yugoslavia, in Central Serbia, Niš. No
similar studies on structural inequality, marginality and Roma has been conducted in
Finally,concepts of structural inequality, marginality, street children, which
have been coined and developed by several authors in the contexof the Western
capitalist system, will be now reflected in the context of transition and postsocialist
radical social changes.
Found in: ključnih besedah
Keywords: Roma, marginality, childhood, street children, risky behaviour, stereotypes
Published: 16.09.2016; Views: 4107; Downloads: 253
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